What Do Rugby Players Say In A Scrum?

Have you been watching a few rugby matches lately? If so you would have noticed that during scrum time players like to chant and yell. But what exactly are they saying? Let’s find out!

England’s scrum pack down just short of Ireland’s line during their Six Nations rugby union match at Twickenham Stadium in London, March 17, 2012. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne (BRITAIN – Tags: SPORT RUGBY)

What do rugby players say in a scrum?

During a scrum rugby players say hit, 2, 3, 4. On the hit call the sides engage and then they drive in unison as the whole forward pack yells 2, 3, 4. Other teams use slightly different variations such as hit, 2 , 3, squeeze.

When you hear players talking the aforementioned scrum call is what you are likely to hear. However, players will also make other comments such as:

  • 8 man shove – When players make this call everyone in the scrum is expected to push with everything they have in order to win the scrum or force a penalty.
  • Ball is out – As soon as the ball leaves the back of the scrum, the scrum is over and open play begins. As some players in the scrum can not see if the ball is out the flankers and halfback will let their teammates know when the scrum is over.
  • Wheeling – A scrum can only move back and forth, if it starts wheeling to the side the responsible team will be penalized. If a side notices the scrum is wheeling they will scream at the referee to convince them to award a penalty.
  • Offside – Sometimes the opposite halfback likes to travel too close to the end of the scrum. The players will scream at the ref and try to win a penalty.
  • Collapsing – Collapsing a scrum is illegal, forwards have to do their best to stay on their feet. If forwards begin losing their footing the opposing side will quickly bring it to the attention of the referee and put pressure on them to blow their whistle and call a penalty.

Usually it isn’t picked up on the TV microphones but rugby players also like to sledge and insult each other during the scrum. Front row forwards love to play mental games with their opposing players and try to destroy their confidence. If a prop gives up a penalty the opposing forwards will let him know about it before and during every scrum for the rest of the match. Veteran props will also try to scare younger props by giving them a description of what they are going to do to them.

Back in the old days players took it way past sledging and would throw a few uppercuts during the scrum. These were often undetected by the referee and if he did manage to spot a few would typically only warn players as the scrum was considered a fairly lawless part of the game.

Why Do Rugby Players Chant During A Scrum?

Rugby players chant during a scrum to coordinate their push, motivate each other and ensure they are in an optimal position to drive.

A rugby scrum is at its most powerful when all players are driving at the same and the chant keeps them in unison. You could have a team with best tight 5 in the world but if they are all pushing at different times then they will be crushed by even an average tight 5 who are working as one.

The chant also acts as inspiration. Rugby players get a shot of adrenaline and an increased level of focus when they are screaming out a chant. As rugby players have spent thousands of hours practicing their scrum to a chant whenever they hear those words it sends a signal to their brain to start scrummaging. The result is an extra powerful push.

What Does A Rugby Referee Say During A Scrum?

During a scrum a rugby referee says:

  • Crouch – players lower their position and dig their feet into the ground
  • Bind – the props grab a hold of their opposite prop
  • Set – the players engage and slam into each other

A referee will also make other comments. If the halfback is taking too long to feed the ball the referee will tel him to hurry up. If one side is keeping the ball at the back of the scrum too long he will tell the side to pick up the ball. If at any point in time the referee blows his whistle the scrum immediately stops. The referee will then explain why they stopped the scrum and indicate if any penalty has been given.

What Does Squeeze Mean During A Rugby Scrum?

Rugby players say squeeze during a scrum to instruct players to tightly bind to their teammates and brace their core and muscles. This process increases the strength of a scrum and allows a rugby team to push harder.

You will commonly hear rugby players yell squeeze during a scrum. While this may sound like a strange word to say as a scrum involves pushing not squeezing is actually a useful cue. When players squeeze they increase the tightness of their bind to their teammates and also engage their muscles. This significantly increases the power they can display as they are now moving as one solid unit and their muscles are in the optimal position to generate force.


Now hopefully the mystery of what rugby players say during a scrum has been solved! Next time you watch a match you can impress your buddies by letting them know (Hint: its hit, 2, 3, 4). You can really impress your friends by explaining exactly why they use this chant (so they can coordinate their push and motivate each other).

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